Fact or Fiction – the Asymptomatic Spreaders?

July 27th, 2020

With so much information from so many different sources regarding COVID19, knowing the truth is challenging. This is especially difficult when it comes to understanding the mechanisms of virus transmission and how easily it spreads. The significance of this is crucial as it impacts the whole strategy of lockdown, social distancing, mask wearing and the importance, or not, of all the tests being done, including the Contact/Tracing plans rolled out in many countries. Even the World Health Organization has been confused on this matter, giving different opinions on how the disease actually spreads and whether asymptomatic people can spread the disease.

Asymptomatic people do not spread the virus

There is some strong evidence that asymptomatic people do NOT spread the virus. In that research, one person hospitalised for an unrelated condition, but testing positive for COVID19, was in contact with 455 others, either other patients, or family, for 4 and 5 days respectively. The study stated that “455 contacts who were exposed to the asymptomatic COVID-19 virus carrier became the subjects of our research. They were divided into three groups: 35 patients, 196 family members and 224 hospital staff. We extracted their epidemiological information, clinical records, auxiliary examination results and therapeutic schedules.” Of the 455 people, seven patients and one family member experienced fever and some other symptoms. None of the 455 people experienced serious respiratory symptoms. The research concluded that in summary, all the 455 contacts were excluded from SARS-CoV-2 infection and we conclude that the infectivity of some asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 carriers might be weak.

In an article on June 8th, the WHO also admitted that asymptomatic people tend not to pass on the disease.

To quote Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s technical lead for Coronavirus response: “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual,” Van Kerkhove said on Monday (June 8th). “We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases, they’re following contacts and they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It is very rare — and much of that is not published in the literature,” she said. “We are constantly looking at this data and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question. It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual actually transmits onward.”

Within hours, a furore erupted in the media, since the implications for the strategy of lockdown and plans for massive Contact Tracing would be huge. If the majority of people who are asymptomatic don’t pass on the disease, both strategies would be rendered largely futile. The stark contradiction between this statement and the purported strategy of the WHO and governments worldwide, could not be more extreme. In response, the WHO was forced to partially retract the statement and say that they were not sure how infectious an asymptomatic person could be. So it seems the science is not settled about the risk from asymptomatic people, but what most commentators seem to ignore is that any disease will only affect the susceptible and vulnerable, irrespective of the mechanisms of transmission. That hasn’t however, stopped many other “researchers” and “media commentators” saying how dangerous asymptomatic people may be in spreading the disease.

What does other research say and is it true?

Asymptomatic people are possibly contagious for an average of 8 days according to research quoted in one article, but this article also stated that “..asymptomatic people experience a much milder version of COVID-19 that could cause subtle effects on the body”. Note that it says “subtle” effects on the body. The article goes on to say,What the study tells us is that asymptomatic patients may not feel anything, but their bodies still fight the virus. The coronavirus does affect the lungs, and lymphocyte counts can drop. Doctors from the UK think T-cell count is a marker that can predict severe COVID-19 cases, and boosting T-cells could improve the condition of patients. Viral shedding, or contagiousness, is around eight days on average, compared to up to 19 days for the symptomatic group.” A separate set of studies say COVID-19 patients aren’t infectious after 11 days after the onset of symptoms.

There is so much potential for misunderstanding in all these figures. In viral diseases of the flu and common cold type, the prodrome (period between initial exposure and symptom development) may be anything from 1- 3 days. Acute respiratory disease may be between 5-7 days. Therefore, in COVID-19, it is possible that an asymptomatic person could in theory spread the disease unknowingly for about 3 days and for additional days if they begin to express symptoms. Also, a clear distinction should be made between asymptomatic people who never get sick, even though infected, which it is estimated may be up to 80% of all infections, and those that are pre-symptomatic and will produce symptoms after 3-5 days or so. In this latter group, there is likely to be contagion involved, which is normal in viral diseases, whereas in asymptomatic people, the evidence, as the WHO tacitly admitted, is not there. Nonetheless, the idea of asymptomatic spreaders is being used to support ongoing lockdowns.

Another article on the same site quoted research stating that there is evidence that those who test positive for COVID19, but who remain asymptomatic, may actually show evidence of serious pathology, detectible in blood work and CT scans. According to the article the damage includes the ground glass effect in the lungs seen in those with serious respiratory pathology of COVID19. This is interesting in many ways. First, how can a person remain asymptomatic and yet show significant clinical damage in the lungs? It is understandable that they may show antibodies or T-cell changes given that the body has successfully fought off the virus without expressing noticeable symptoms, but to suggest that asymptomatic people show potentially serious pathological damage adds a completely new dimension to the argument. Can this be true? One of the studies quoted in the article shows that asymptomatic people who test positive on RT-PCR tests, do have some immunity shown on serology antibody testing, but given the numbers involved in the study (78, of which 33 were asymptomatic) there is no evidence that asymptomatic people suffered clinical damage similar to symptomatic people based on tests done. The CDF T Lymphocyte measurements do not indicate actual immune compromise but natural immune reaction. Also, as in all studies like this, the quality and accuracy of the RT-PCR test is an issue, given that they are known to be unreliable.

The famous example of the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship

T-cell count is part of the immune system’s response to COVID19, but that alone does not indicate pathological changes. However, the article above implies that simply being infected by COVID-19 may produce some lung damage even if remaining apparently asymptomatic. To justify its assumptions it also references the following research by the Lancet. This research looked into the now famous example of the Diamond Princess cruise ship which was quarantined in Japan with 3,711 passengers on board. To quote from the research, 104 participants were included in the final analysis. Participants were aged 25–93 years, with a median age of 68 years (IQR 47–75). The observation period ranged from 3 to 15 days (median 10 days, IQR 7–10). Half of the participants had comorbidities (table 1). On the basis of their presentation on the day of admission, 43 (41%) participants who did not have any clinical signs or symptoms were classified as asymptomatic, whereas 41 (39%) were classified as having mild COVID-19 and 20 (19%) as having severe COVID-19. At the end of the observation period, 33 (32%) participants were confirmed as being asymptomatic (table 2), 43 (41%) as having mild COVID-19, and 28 (27%) as having severe COVID-19 (table 3).”

The Diamond Prince cruise ship allowed researchers to do a unique analysis of the overall morbidity and mortality of COVID19, given there were over 3,000 predominantly old and vulnerable people locked down in one place. The research in the Lancet and the other research mentioned in that paper, did NOT show serious pathological changes in those who were positive but asymptomatic. Some of these people later became symptomatic and developed clinical pathological changes seen in CT scans as might be expected. The suggestion that asymptomatic people will not only spread the disease but may also develop serious respiratory pathological changes is not supported by facts, but it does increase the level of fear around COVID19.

On the Diamond Princess cruise ship, another study showed how few people were seriously affected, even though the majority were elderly and in what is considered the vulnerable population. Furthermore, they were in an enclosed environment prior to knowing that COVID19 was on the ship, with plenty of opportunity for spread, before quarantine was imposed and yet the number of cases showed that the virus in fact is not that contagious.

Over 3,000 people were tested. 18% of those that tested positive showed no symptoms at all. This is a significant number and as the article states, would indicate a much higher percentage in the population as a whole, given the majority of people on board ship were elderly. Over 700 people tested positive for COVID19 but there were only 7 deaths. It is true that quarantine was imposed fairly quickly, limiting further exposure, but a cruise ship presents the perfect environment for a contagious disease to spread. However, that didn’t happen, and again, suggests that COVID19 is not as contagious as first thought, and asymptomatic people are unlikely to spread the disease to others.

Why testing healthy people makes no sense most of the time

The fact remains that if someone tests positive for the virus and yet remains asymptomatic, by definition they will not produce symptoms. Up to 80% of those who test positive remain asymptomatic, with limited ability to infect others. It therefore makes no sense to test asymptomatic people unless they are potentially in close contact with the vulnerable. To chase the virus as it were, would in theory mean testing the whole planet. There are plans in the USA to do exactly this. A Rockefeller Foundation report recommends the ongoing testing of the whole US population, with up to 30 million tests being done each week.

Furthermore, as we have shown, it is primarily the elderly and vulnerable who are at risk, almost all of whom have existing co-morbidities requiring many medications that may also exacerbate their clinical symptoms. That includes the commonly prescribed medication for hypertension and diabetes as well as cholesterol, especially in the USA and Europe. In the UK, 95% of deaths due to COVID19 occurred in those with co-morbidities, 80% of cases were over the age of 60 and 50% of deaths in hospital were over the age of 80. Also, there is growing evidence that many of the vulnerable elderly people most severely affected by COVID19 were seriously deficient in Vitamin D, and Zinc, both known to negatively affect outcome.

In any epidemic some people will never get sick

In spite of these obvious facts, there is still the assumption that unless we continue some form of lockdown and social distancing, almost everyone will be infected with the virus, but is that true? In all epidemic diseases, those most vulnerable and susceptible will succumb and those that are not susceptible will not become ill. This is also true for much more serious diseases like the Black Plague in Europe and the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 that killed up to 40 million people. Not everyone is affected, and those that survive develop some form of immunity, which may last months, years, or a lifetime. The more people who are infected, the more likelihood that a general population immunity will develop. Some evidence suggests 60% of people may already have a background immunity to COVID19 produced by exposure to previous corona viruses. A virus like COVID19 will generally have its own lifespan and then disappear or mutate into a new form, usually increasingly less virulent than the original. There have been suggestions that COVID19 will be with us forever, including by esteemed experts like Dr Anthony Fauci in the USA and the World Health Organization. To suggest that COVID19 will be with us forever is very peculiar when historically, all epidemics have come and then gone in their own cycle. How can Dr. Fauci and the WHO know that COVID19 will not disappear, given the behaviour of all other infectious diseases?

Comments: We are now in a position where it seems much of science has been thrown to the wind and what is left is ongoing exaggeration of the risks of COVID19, contradictions and confusion. The greater the disconnect between the facts and the position of governments and experts worldwide, the more the case can be made that this crisis is, at the very least, being used to prop up unnecessary lockdowns and vast amounts of taxpayers’ money going into testing and drug and vaccine research.


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